Dietary Fats


Image Caption : Just like cholesterol can be divided into "good" and "bad" varieties, the rest of the fats family can be too. Dietary fats can be classified into two categories: saturated (the "bad" fats) and unsaturated (the "good" fats). Saturated fats differ from unsaturated fats in their chemical structure: unsaturated fats have one or more double carbon bonds in their molecular "backbone" and therefore fewer hydrogen atoms. Unsaturated fats come in two types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Good sources of these fats come from healthy oils, nuts, seeds, fish and avocados. Studies have shown that replacing saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated fats will lower blood cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. We are advised to keep fat within 20-35% of daily calories. The real focus, however, is now squarely on the quality of fat. The U.S. population currently gets 11-12% of energy from saturated fats and that hasn`t changed much over 15 years. It is generally recommended that saturated fat not exceed 10% of the daily fat intake, but some experts suggest getting it down to 5% would be healthier target.

Dietary Fats

Also called: Lipids, Monounsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat, Saturated fat

Fat is a type of nutrient. You need some fat in your diet but not too much. Fats give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins. Dietary fat also plays a major role in your cholesterol levels.

But not all fats are the same. You should try to avoid

  • Saturated fats such as butter, solid shortening, and lard
  • Trans fats. These are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). By 2018, most U.S. companies will not be allowed to add PHOs to food.

Try to replace them with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sesame, or sunflower. Of course, eating too much fat will put on the pounds. Fat has twice as many calories as proteins or carbohydrates.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Fat is one of the three main macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Fats, also known as triglycerides, are esters of three fatty acid chains and the alcohol glycerol.

The terms "oil", "fat", and "lipid" are often confused. "Oil" normally refers to a fat with short or unsaturated fatty acid chains that is liquid at room temperature, while "fat" may specifically refer to fats that are solids at room temperature. "Lipid" is the general term, as a lipid is not necessarily a triglyceride. Fats, like other lipids, are generally hydrophobic, and are soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water.

Fat is an important foodstuff for many forms of life, and fats serve both structural and metabolic functions. They are necessary part of the diet of most heterotrophs (including humans). Some fatty acids that are set free by the digestion of fats are called essential because they cannot be synthesized in the body from simpler constituents. There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in human nutrition: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Other lipids needed by the body can be synthesized from these and other fats. Fats and other lipids are broken down in the body by enzymes called lipases produced in the pancreas.



The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.